This is an amazing email from Miranda Gerson from SA, who read the book and, on a whim, decided to visit Drifters. Thanks Miranda, this moved me to tears.
I received your book as a present because I couldn’t put it down at Exclusive Books in Pietermaritzburg-South Africa. Within 10 weeks my stepdad, by sheer chance landed up getting a 3 month contract at Hippo Valley in Zim. I was able to hitch a ride on the chartered flights from Durban to Chiredzi because there was a spare seat. Having read my Mom so many of the riveting extracts from your book, both facts and stories proving that truth IS a hell of a lot stranger than fiction, she was also sold on your book. You managed to capture the extremely complicated situation in Zim with your candid outspoken approach and yet the sheer horror and tragedy of some situations were laced with stories that were so entertaining and often hilarious. When we realised that roads and road block authorities permitting, it would be a four hour drive to Mutare from Chiredzi I though how incredible it would be to actually go and visit the very place that this outstanding book had arisen from. As My Mom and I read the ending of your book together you have no idea how surreal it felt to know that we were going to find Drifters (having heard via the grapevine that it still existed).
Just as you said, we followed the road to Harare and on the left found a very well signposted Drifters. John Muranda was the first person who I found and I cautiously told him that I had read your book and felt like I knew him (he laughed when he heard my name saying that I was then his sister: ) He said that your dad was in to town and the other John was at church (Muranda carefully adding that he had already been earlier in the day!) John took us up through the bushy pathway to meet your surprised mom. What a lovely dignified and resilient lady she is. We were shown around Drifters (sure it was Becks and Sadam who we saw by the bar, no drinks but they were two shadows silently watching TV, tried to look at their shirts but it was dark). After asking your mom how the coffee business was going she presented us each with a bag of Vumba coffee, insisting on no charge. Instead we tipped the two Johns generously as you asked: ) I arrived armed with your book hoping to have it written in by your folks and according to your mom I was the first to have my copy written in by her. At the rondawels I met Tendai and he too was descended upon to write in my book and he so graciously did. John told me the tragic news that his grandaughter had drowned in the very pool on your book cover. I have a picture of us around the pool, Naomi joined in too and a pic of your mom and me on her verandah with that beautiful view, making what they had been through seem hard to believe but that’s Africa for you.
What a surreal experience to be part of your story by being there in the flesh. As I began reading it if someone had told me that I would be right there within a few months I would have shaken my head very nervously and labelled the person mad! Instead it has become such a lesson for me that life can take you anywhere and if you are willing to take the road less travelled you can and always should!
Please send my regards to your mom and ask her to pass it on to everyone else. Your book is an absolute masterpiece, congratulations.